|August 5, 2008||Posted by Martin Ralya|
Need a new dice bag? Then man do I have a recommendation for you — hell, even if you like your current bag (I did), you might be surprised how appealing this particular dice bag looks.
Why a New Bag?
I’m pretty obsessive about small things (as anyone whose ever spent much time with me can tell you), and that certainly extends to dice bags. I bought my first one in 1989, and ever since then I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect dice bag. I’ve spent way more time than any sane person should considering all of the elements of a good dice bag, and lamenting the fact that 99% of the dice bags out there fall down in at least one area.
I’ve owned and used a number of bags over the years, including the little fuzzy ones that sometimes come bundled with dice sets, a jumbo leather one with a cord that broke after about a week and my previous favorite, a semi-custom bag from the now-defunct company The Gamer’s Bag.
Sometimes the cord breaks, or just won’t close the bag properly without serious effort. Sometimes they’re too small, or not well made all around — there’s always something. I know expecting perfection in a designed object is fruitless, but I keep looking anyway.
My previous bag was beautifully made and very solid — The Gamer’s Bag was an awesome company, and they built their bags to last. It’s held up to years of regular use, including travel to GenCon, without any problems. But as I’ve shifted around what kind of dice I carry, it’s become too small — and the cord needed to be tied to keep it securely closed, which always bugged me a little bit.
Why so much context? Because I want you to know that when I say I’ve found the ultimate dice bag, it’s not just hyperbole. I fully expect to be using this dice bag for many years to come — it’s essentially perfect.
When I decided I needed a new, larger dice bag, I didn’t start at my local gaming store — I started at Etsy, a site where folks can sell handmade items. I bought a Pac-Man iPod cozy from an Etsy seller a while back, and I figured I’d be able to find some neat dice bags there.
A quick search led me to Marsbarn Designs, an Etsy seller who offers handmade dice bags for $12, and right away I knew I was onto something — her bags looked awesome. I dropped her a line to ask if I could choose the two fabrics for my bag, and she said that’d be no problem. $12 + $3 shipping and a few days later, I had myself a new dice bag.
The Ultimate Bag
So why is this the ultimate dice bag? It was the pictures in Marsbarn’s store that sold me on this puppy, so I’ll go the same route and show while I tell. You can click on any picture to see a jumbo-sized version.
I picked this superhero-themed fabric for the exterior, although the bag is fully reversible. The bag itself is 4″ x 4″ square on the bottom by 5″ high. Closed and full of dice (as it is in this photo), it’s about the size of a softball.
Why a square bottom? Because it means the bag will stand upright with or without dice in it, not flop over like every other dice bag I’ve ever seen. This is a nice feature, and one of the first things that appealed to me about Marsbarn’s design.
Every aspect of this bag is well-crafted, from the stitching to the seams — good stuff all around. I waited to review my bag until I’d used it for a couple of sessions, and it’s proved to be just as durable and well-made as it looks.
Here’s what I have in my bag at the moment: 77 dice total, including 4 full poly sets, 4 spare d20s, 34d6, 10d10 and a d3. I like having lots of options, as well as sets to share if someone forgets their dice.
There’s plenty of room in the bag for more, and this is a big plus for me — the bag is roomy without being huge. It holds more dice than its dimensions might suggest, and it’s a very satisfying size.
Four other details I just love:
- The toggle. Dislike tying knots in your dice bag’s cord, or having problems with it coming open during travel? This is the perfect solution.
- Two layers of fabric. This is going to be a very durable bag. At the same time, it’s not as thick as a leather bag (which I find too bulky).
- The cord ends. Marsbarn dipped the ends of the closure cord in epoxy, giving them a feel a bit like the ends of a shoelace. This will help avoid fraying, which is a problem I’ve always had with dice bag cords. And there’s enough slack in the cord that if they ever do fray, I can snip the ends off and re-dip them.
- Fully reversible. See how the cord emerges from between the two layers of fabric? That’s because this bag is 100% reversible. If she’d sewed the cord in differently, you’d be able to tell which side was the inside.
…and here it is reversed, with the subtle swirled fabric I picked for the “inside.” I like that if I’m in the mood for something different, I can just turn the bag inside out. This particular fabric also makes it easy to find particular dice (whereas my “outside” fabric is a bit too busy for that).
If you check out Marsbarn’s available bags, you’ll see that she usually picks two fabrics that share a theme, or that just go well together. I specifically requested my two fabrics, and I bet you could do the same.
Marsbarn was a friendly seller who shipped promptly, took the time to follow up and delivered a product that exceeded my expectations in every way. This personal touch capped off a great shopping experience: I’d mentioned Gnome Stew when I ordered my bag, and she included this hand-sewn flaming gnome card, which has a little personal note on the back. Very cute.
My Recommendation: Buy One
This is bag fully earns its title of Ultimate Dice Bag in my mind — it’s a great, well-made bag packed with little details that make it perfect. If you need a new dice bag, there are only two reasons not to buy this one right now.
Including shipping, it’s $15, making it more expensive than most dice bags — but there’s a big difference between “more expensive” and “overpriced.” This bag is worth every penny, and the combination of durability that should ensure years of constant use and little features like reversibility, the square bottom and the toggle closure made it a no-brainer for me.
The other reason would be if you don’t like carrying lots of dice. If you only bring a seven-die poly set and a couple of spare d20s to your sessions, this bag might feel too big for you — though it will allow you room to grow.
My Marsbarn Designs dice bag is simply one of the best game aids that I’ve ever purchased. It’s sterling, and I fully expect to use and love it for many years — it’s already one of my favorite gaming-related widgets. I’m going to stop hunting for the perfect bag, because I’ve found it.